What I read – 2 (16/100 #100bookpact)
There is no denying I have become a compulsive book buyer (and before-I-go-to-sleep reader) after I have come to possess my Kindle. Every now and then, I check out the monthly deals on Amazon and buy books one after the other which are on discount! As a result, I have a growing pile of unread books.
Following are the ones I read recently.
1. The Lie of You by Jane Lythell
I never ever buy a book unless I have read 10,000 reviews on it! However, this was an exception. In one of my sprees of buying books off the Amazon Kindle Store, I bought this one after reading only the short summary and reader reviews. Described as a psychological thriller which is my favourite sub-genre, it did not thrill me as much as I would have liked. Written from the POV of the two main characters, it is a story of how two women compete against each other both in their professional and personal lives. The predictable twist came way early in the story and the ending seemed like a flat Cola with no fizz. I am not a great impulsive buyer of books, it seems.
2. The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian
This was my third book by the author and I picked it up solely because I was curious to know how the best thriller writer of India (and a male author) has treated the romantic genre. Much to my surprise, rather than a plain vanilla romantic tale, it turned out to be a romantic thriller. The story explores the facets of adultery set in the backdrop of the banking industry (which he is a master of) and the publishing world (which was hugely insightful). It has a well-crafted plot line with interesting characters and peppered with maturely-written erotica – something which is hardly found in mainstream romance novels of India. The ending has a classic Ravi Subramanian twist, however this time I could predict it. But that only means I have become an expert thriller-reader ;). Perfect for the long flight or gloomy winter evening or boring lecture in class – this fast-paced story will grab your attention and hold it till the end.
3. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
I had set my eyes on this one for a long time but was on the fence about whether I wanted to read about my favourite character (Salander) by an author other than Steig Larsson. I cleared my mind of the bias before giving in to my temptation and therefore, was not disappointed. This is very important – you cannot read this book while comparing it to the Millennium Trilogy. Characters and setting are the same but the story is wholly different, very modern (concerning artificial intelligence et all) and has a surprising antagonist from Salander’s past. My only complaint is that the plot has too many elements crisscrossing their path which distracted from the central story line. But if you are a fan of the Swedish setting and the two protagonists, don’t give up on this book without reading just because it’s by a different author.
4. The Geneva Option by Adam Lebor
It is the prequel to The Washington Stratagem (TWS), which I read first. Bits and pieces of this book appears in TWS which intrigued me enough to read it. Unfortunately for me, it couldn’t thrill me enough because I have read the sequel first and knew what was coming; so if you want to pick up this author remember to read this first and then TWS. But in isolation, it is a good plot with twists and turns of the Delhi-Manali road – a perfect time pass read. There are not many stories set in the backdrop of UN and so this offers a great glimpse into the working, structure, politics and dangers lurking in the organisation.
5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
What a book! After eyeing this bestseller for sometime, I picked it up recently at a discount. Critics use one word frequently to describe a book – unputdownable. I think this term is apt for The Girl on the Train. Apart from a singular plot which holds your attention, very different and unique three women characters and a superb ending, this book is a great lesson in writing thrillers. It teaches you how to juggle different point of views and shifting time scale beautifully, gives you a lesson on how to create flawed characters which hook the readers and unravel layers of a psychological thriller bit by bit and how to write a full novel in short, crisp sentences. Go read it immediately!
6. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
I must confess I still haven’t finished A God in Every Stone by this author. Somehow I lost interest in between, despite the promising story. I will try to finish it and put up the review. However I enjoyed Burnt Shadows immensely. This story carries the reader from Japan to Delhi to Istanbul, before landing up in Lahore and then New York and finally ending in Afghanistan and Canada and takes place between 1945 and 2001. It traverses through bombing in Nagasaki, partition riots in Delhi, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 9/11 attack and weaves them beautifully in the lives of the characters. Kamila Shamsie paints pictures with her words in this poignant tale; it is a must-read if you are a sucker like me for good human stories.
7. Tim by Colleeen McCullough
Before you beat me for reading this masterpiece so late, let me hurriedly confess that for a long time, I did not want to ruin my fangirl awe for Colleen McCullogh’s The Thorn Birds by reading another of her works. What if I didn’t like it? I shouldn’t have worried – she is Colleen McCullough after all! Her stories gives a brilliant insight into the Australian way of life and Tim is no different. Portraying both the working class and the wealthy, this tale describes the unfolding of a relationship between a middle-aged, plain looking but wealthy Mary Horton and extremely handsome but mentally challenged, young Tim Melville breaking free of the social taboo . This story was my constant companion in my recent trip to Corbett National Park and I couldn’t have asked for better.
8. Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
Yes, I read thrillers from around the world, especially those by the master storyteller Keigo Higashino whose Devotion of Suspect X remains to this day one of my most favourite stories. Dealing with an old-world Japan starting from 1974, this story begins with a murder and solves it only at the end, after a whopping 500-odd pages! In between lie the stories of two unlikely characters – the victim’s son and the prime suspect’s daughter. Peppered with a portrayal of Japan’s changing social, cultural, technological and economic scenario, this story is a classic Keigo Higashino where readers already know where it is going but trying to figure out why and how it is going where it is going! Didn’t get what I meant? Go read this book to find out.
9. Defiant Dreams – Tales of Everyday Divas
And finally, I read the book which is made up winning entries from a nation-wide contest by the e-zine Incredible Women of India and Readomania, including one of mine! This calls for a detailed review on my blog.
Do let me know your opinion if you have read any of the books I am writing about.